In September we had the privilege of attending an alpha version of the Certified Scrum Developer (CSD) course, which is jointly developed by Microsoft,  MVPs such as our esteemed Richard and Mike, imageand the Scrum Alliance. We have finally been advised that we can remove the duck tape and start talking about the course …

The course layout

IMPORTANT: The text in italic is an extract from the course documentation, which is undergoing continuous change and improvements. The layout may therefore (most likely) change!

The Accentient Scrum Developer course is an intensive five day experience for whole teams of developers. The course teaches teams how to turn product requirements into potentially shippable increments of software using the Scrum framework, Visual Studio 2010, and modern software engineering practices. Attendees will work in self-organizing, self-managing teams using a common instance of Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 to achieve this goal.

Scrum  … click on the image to get a better view of things … not all of us have microscopic vision :)

My personal opinion on the Alpha course we attended

My expectations of the course were to get a good understanding of Scrum, get in a position where I can practice Scrum using the new Conchango Process Template for VSTS 2010 and Visual Studio clip_image001Team System 2010. What I faced was a course that assumed a good understanding of Scrum fundamentals (which was fine) and a good understanding of ASP.NET and especially the ASP.NET MVC framework … we were bombarded with requirements and features which had to be planned and incorporated into the Tailspin based sample application.

    • My expectation: 25% scrum practices, 50% scrum guidance and 25% using technology as an aid to scrum
    • My course view: 20% scrum practices, 20% scrum guidance and 60% arguing with technology

Where I found most of the value during the course was noticing how scrum concepts actually guided our team through the rough path of learning ASP.NET MVC, prioritising and implementing the product backlog as best as possible. Ongoing discussions during the course and as mentioned in the passages enjoying a caffeine injection (coffee) or just a few gasps of fresh air to clear the foggy mind, where also incredibly valuable.

The Conchango process template, the feature set and associated complexity, made me think whether MSF Agile or the Conchango Lightweight Scrum Process Template is not a simpler process template to use when embracing Scrum and TFS for the first time … but the jury is still out on that one and depends largely on the evolution of the course and the suggested deeper focus on both Scrum fundamentals, the Conchango process template and “your” requirements.

What was truly amazing is how the course developers listened to the feedback of the Alpha course attendees and how the course is evolving into a course that resembles my (our) original expectations. Kudos to the content development team, the delivery team, and Sam … your have crafted an exceptional and invaluable course! 

What was the impact of the course … the fallout … if any?

image The fallout of attending the course and especially the discussions we had in the coffee area and the passages during breaks, has made us re-think some of our processes and approaches. In recent satisfaction surveys we were told by external VSTS Rangers that transparency and on-going collaboration is top on their wish lists for future VSTS Rangers projects … we listened and are currently considering implementing a very light-weight scrum based process, with weekly scrum meetings and initially an Excel based tracking system. Once we have filed the rough edges and have completed a few sprints using the manual system, we will most likely move towards a software driven process … VSTS Rangers? … oh yes, that means dog fooding TFS 2010 and future versions as the engine room.

See To scrum or to Run … that is the agile question? for a previous post around this topic.

image The quick reference poster, as shown, is an attempt to visualise the “scrumified“ process we are considering for the VSTS Rangers projects going forward. As with other scrum initiatives, the primary objective of the exercise is to improve the transparency and collaboration within the project team, ensuring that challenges, issues, impediments and successes can be recognised early and dealt with appropriately.

The quick reference poster is still in its infancy, but will be available as part of the VSTS 2010 101 Guidance package, which is one of the VSTS Rangers projects which we will be releasing on Codeplex shortly. See VSTS Rangers Projects – summary of projects covered on this blog for a list of associated blog posts if you are interested in more details.

It is time to worry when Scrum finds its way into your home …

On the home front my family is still puzzled when walking through our laundry, which suddenly had names and tasks scribbled on papers stuck all over one of the mirrors. It is an early attempt to “scrumify” imageour home and get some order and priority to common tasks that are often known but (intentionally) ignored. Looking at the mirror we can immediately see that the workload is not well balanced, with one of our sons not claiming any of the pending tasks … well, I guess I will need to move some papers today.

While it is still early days and I have not been able to convince anyone to scrum on a regular basis, we have at least improved the transparency of what needs to be done, what is assigned and who is available to volunteer for some tasks. Volunteer? For tasks? Why? … I can see the thoughts flying through my sons heads at times :)

I would be interested to hear some of the innovation and use of scrum in your environments, as well as the success and failure stories.

Acronyms used:

  • ASP – Microsoft Active Server Pages
  • MVC – Model View Controller
  • CSD - Certified Scrum Developer
  • TFS – Team Foundation Server
  • VSTS – Visual Studio Team System